A Christian nurse was fired after offering to pray with patients before surgery and suggesting that praying to God might increase their chances of survival.
Sarah Kuteh lost her job as a nurse in Britain last year following multiple complaints from patients, who claimed she talked more about religion than procedures and told some patients that praying to God would help them to survive, The Telegraph reported.
Mrs Kuteh was sacked for gross misconduct from Darent Valley Hospital in Dartford, Kent. Eight “extremely vulnerable” patients who were facing surgery had submitted complaints about her behavior.
She refuted the allegations and instead brought her case to an employment tribunal, which is ongoing, claiming she was unfairly dismissed. She has 15 years’ nursing experience.
One cancer patient in her care complained after she suggested that if he prayed to God he would have a better chance of survival.
Another patient claimed Mrs Kuteh was focusing more on religion than completing a pre-operative questionnaire, according to statements submitted to the employment tribunal.
The tribunal’s panel agreed that firing Mrs Kuteh was completely appropriate, while the hospital denied that she was fired because of her religion.
The chair of the panel, Victoria Leivers-Carruth, said the nurse was using her one-to-one time with patients to “impose her religious beliefs” on them.
“We did not believe that Mrs Kuteh was being disciplined because she was a Christian. It was apparent to us that Mrs Kuteh was disciplined because she had engaged in conversations about religion that were unwanted by patients and contrary to her line manager’s instructions,” she said in a statement.
The nurse’s lawyer, however, fired back saying that Mrs Kuteh was merely showing compassion to people who were suffering.
“A nurse without compassion would be unworthy of the name. On top of performing her immediate duties, a good nurse would try and find kind words to say to her patient,” lawyer Pavel Stroilov said at the hearing.
The general manager for medicine at the hospital where Mrs Kuteh was employed said she gave multiple warnings to her but she had “persisted with questioning patients on religious grounds” and “spirituality blurred the professional boundary” between herself and patients.
The nurse denied allegations that she imposed her Christian faith on patients. According to her, she would sometimes be prompted to initiate religious discussion with patients with questions on the pre-op questionnaire.
“I don’t want it to look like it was a habit. I would not always initiate it, only when I’m prompted in the questionnaire,” she said at the hearing. She added that rather than being fired, she wished someone would had supervised her and produced a weekly review of her performance.
“I love nursing, I love what I do and I love talking to patients,” she added. “What I wanted the trust to have done was to give me the opportunity to show a change.”
The tribunal reserved judgment until a later date.